The sixth box set of adventures featuring Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter as the eponymous sleuths returns them to their normal stamping ground, the late Victorian period, after a brief sojourn off-planet, and out of time. That’s a diversion which for some reason seems to be being written out of their timelines: it can’t be just to set up the second story, since at the end both of them have problems with remembering it. It’s good to have them back in the nineteenth century, even if it does mean that crowd scenes call on the dramatic talents of those usually behind the scenes – the CD extras are hilarious at this point.
The set kicks off with one of my favourite stories for the pair from all their appearances: Jonathan Morris’ The Skeleton Quay. It’s a highly atmospheric ghost story, which (consciously or otherwise) pays homage to one of John Carpenter’s more underrated early films, The Fog (the original, not the dreadful Tom Welling remake). You’re never quite sure what is real and what isn’t, and Howard Carter’s sound design leaves you in no doubt about the thickness of the mist surrounding the characters.
Matthew Sweet’s Return of the Repressed is one of the more outlandish tales, and reminds me of his Year of the Pig story for the Sixth Doctor. Like that, this is likely to be a ‘marmite’ tale: it heavily involves Sigmund Freud, and a lot of apparently out of character behaviour from our leads. It’s actually slightly surprising that this behaviour wasn’t mentioned during the court sequences in the last story, since it must have achieved some notoriety.
George Mann’s Military Intelligence and Justin Richards’ The Trial of George Litefoot form a two-part story, with various hidden agendas brought out into the spotlight. It’s a more overtly Steampunk tale than is usual with Jago & Litefoot, and also turns the dial up on the melodrama. There are a lot of twists in this, and it would be unfair to spoil them, but suffice it to say that the box set ends with some very high stakes to play for in series seven.
The last two discs also give an increased role to both Lisa Bowerman’s Ellie and Conrad Asquith’s Sergeant Quick, as well as providing a very genre appropriate heroine with Nancy Carroll’s Agatha. The Colonel, played with gusto by Geoffrey Whitehead, overshadows the whole series. His links to the Crown give our leads a whiff of real authority for once, and Whitehead never allows his performance to go over the top.
Verdict: Never less than entertaining, this varied set shows there is still plenty of mileage in this spin-off. 7/10